Background: Beginning in 2017, I set up a google alert for “young people protest” and “student protest.” As a historian of student activism in higher education, the initial purpose of the alert was to follow contemporary forms of student activism. In revisiting the alerts in 2020, I realized that the google alerts provide a tidy temporal lens on student activism during the three years of the Trump administration. From a scholarly standpoint, I was curious if the google alerts (as a dataset/text corpus) can offer any insight into contemporary forms of student activism over the last three years, both under the Trump administration and, more generally, in the context of the rising of authoritarian tendencies in regions like India and Brazil. More recently, as I explored ways to integrate digital inquiry into my fall 2020 course, I also began to see the google alerts (as a dataset/text corpus) as a potential teaching resource. Could my students, using tools like Voyant and ArcGIS, identify trends in that data/text corpus? How would they interpret those trends as students? And what arguments might they make as young scholars about student protest under the Trump Administration?
Limitations: I see a couple limitations with this data. The first concerns the search terms. In hindsight, I wish I would have included other search terms, most significantly, activism. The use of only “protest” as the operable term likely limited the database and may not capture the smaller moments of organizing and meetings among students. In this regard, I recognize that this data does not capture the breadth and depth of student protest over the last three years, especially those instances that might not capture national attention. I also recognize that the sources are news websites reporting on student activism and likely does not offer the primary sources, though I could be incorrect about this. In addition, the narrow timeframe limits some of the questions I would like to ask, specifically, whether there was a shift from Obama era student activism to the Trump Era. *NOTE: For more detail on limitations, please see the discussion of the data in the reports.
Construction of Archive (process): See Dr. Charlie Harper, “Corpora Creation Notes”
Projects: Civic Agency and the University: Redefining Civics Beyond the Bubble; see in particular Digital Lab page
Citation: David S. Busch, “Newspaper Report and Contemporary Student Protest,” Student Protest and Activism: A Text Corpora Archive